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David Garner earned his BS in mechanical engineering in 2023 and expects to receive his MS in 2024. A summer internship before starting graduate school led to the prospect of a full-time post-graduate job for this former SoE student ambassador and Engineers Without Borders president.

Why Rutgers Engineering?

I wanted to be a part of a school with diversity, interdisciplinary focus, and research opportunities in a wide variety of topics. Before committing to Rutgers, I was passionate about contributing to global renewable energy initiatives. I was excited to learn that a university-wide collective is working toward expanding the capabilities of renewable energy sources. 

Two images side-by-side. On the right is a white mail college student posing next to a red tunnel slide and a large lego figurine. The other side is a black-and-white photo of the same male in a hard hat and jeans posing in front of a nuclear power plant.

What attracted you to MAE? 

I wanted a broader education in engineering that would give me the skillset to pivot in my career across industries. I also love ME at Rutgers for its concentrations in currently booming energy and aerospace industries.

Have you been involved in any research projects?

I participated in the J.J. Slade Scholars program my senior year conducting research in latent heat thermal energy storage optimization via the integration of 3D printed metal foam lattices.

Under the supervision of my MAE advisor, I started my research from scratch, did numerical analyses with simulation software, and created designs for experimentation that I’m taking into my 4+1 master’s thesis.

I’ve also been involved in creating a hybrid wind and solar powered hydroponics system that successfully grew lettuce with the provided power. We also wrote programs for data collection technologies to measure the success and capabilities of the hybrid system.

What do you like most about the MAE faculty?

I appreciate how candid and kind the faculty are. Their invaluable advice will go with me into my future career and lifestyle. Their personal stories and those of their PhD students, give me glimpses of the type of person I want to be and the success I want to achieve.

Have you had any internships?

I have had three internships, each gotten in a different way. My first internship in my junior year summer at Hydrogen House Project in Hopewell, New Jersey was the result of an MAE department email about the opportunity. I jumped at the chance, and was able to work on retrofitting old vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells and studying the capabilities of ultra-capacitors.

My second internship with Fisher-Price, part of Mattel's portfolio, in Buffalo, New York, came through LinkedIn and Handshake announcements. I worked in development program management and product development on some of their most popular lines. There is so much more engineering behind a toy than you would expect. I would have gladly stayed there full-time after graduation had I not wanted to fulfill my dream of being involved in energy innovation.

This past summer, I did a complete 180, interning at the Limerick Nuclear Generating Station, which is a part of Constellation Energy in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, assisting in the design challenges of installing new cooling tower equipment to mitigate biogrowth. I met with this company at the RU Mega Career Fair. Going from Mattel to nuclear power, I inadvertently created my own Barbie-Oppenheimer experience over the span of one year before the movies even came out. 

What about extracurriculars? 

I dedicated my four years to the Rutgers Engineers Without Borders Chapter (EWB) to help developing communities abroad with sustainable and community-driven projects in energy, infrastructure, and clean water.

As president my senior year, I revamped our travel program after COVID-19 limited our ability to travel and oversaw the final construction of a school in Chi Elias, Guatemala. Additionally, I traveled with a student team to Kolunje, Kenya where we plan to continue building a community water utility system.

While I got to climb a 13,000-foot mountain in Guatemala and witness the beauty of Kenya with EWB, I also gained invaluable skills in leadership, project management, engineering standards, and ethical practices.

Outside of EWB, I also participated in the Rutgers Senate as an SOE ambassador.

What are your future plans?

After getting my MS, I will continue my role at Constellation Energy as a central design organization engineer at the Limerick power plant. If my research is successful, I will consider pursuing a PhD.

What advice do you have for future students?

There are so many opportunities, but finding the one that's perfect for you is just a click or a question away. I always wanted to do research at Rutgers but didn't muster the courage until my senior year, when I emailed my MAE advisor who was assigned to me my freshman year, but with whom I’d never spoken through my own negligence. Yet he responded and said yes, he'll be my research advisor. So, keep looking for what you want out of Rutgers, and it will reveal itself.

What three words best describe your SoE experience?

Flying. Driven. Smiling.